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The End of Social Networks

For a long time now I’ve been one of the few voices (if not the first) to publicly criticise the social network craze.

Much to my chagrin Blog Bloke reluctantly acquiesced and joined the major social networking sites like MySpace, FaceBook and BlogCatalog for one reason only … to reserve my brand name before someone else tried to steal it.

That is the only reason why I did it. Otherwise I wouldn’t have even bothered. I’ve never liked them from the beginning and I like them even less now because lately I’ve been noticing more and more social network spam.

I’m getting messages from people and groups trying to sell me something on the premise of wanting to be my friend. A lot of these social network groups are nothing more than a ruse for promoting online scams to pick my pocket and sell me something. Thanks so much for wanting to be my friend, but … I’ve also been noticing that my social network list of friends has been increasing even faster than subscribers to my blog newsfeed.

Well, although it’s flattering that they want to be my friend I would much rather they subscribe to my blog. Why? Because at least I know they are reading my content and will (hopefully) become a part my blog community instead of just trying to sell me something or being another cog in a social network site.

You see, a social network site is just that. It’s nothing more than a website trying to carve out an empire for itself and make money. Whereas my blogosphere is so much bigger than that, and without all the nonsense either.

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again because it’s worth repeating — please spend most of your online time developing your real blog with a top level domain instead of helping to promote a corporate website. They are the ones who are reaping the reward — not you.

Social Networks are stealing your blog traffic from right under your nose and you don’t even realize it. If you think it will help you to find your long lost friend from high school, then by all means go for it. But don’t hold your breath for anything much beyond that. (By the way, I thought that was what Google was for).

The Social Network Fad Will Pass

Now getting back to the premise for this post. The End of Social Networks? We can only hope (notice the tongue in my cheek).
I’m going out on a limb here and predict the demise of social networks unless they can effectively put an end to the online hustlers and improve privacy. 

I won’t say when or how long it will take but as more pickpockets take over the social networks, most reasonable people will eventually become fed up and move on.  Only the gullible will continue to be interested, or those who enjoy watching the shopping network and late night infomercials on TV.

When you buy a book or movie online–or make a political contribution–do you want that information automatically shared with the world on Facebook? Most people would call that a huge invasion of privacy. But recently, Facebook began doing just that. People across the country saw private purchases they made on other sites displayed on their Facebook News Feeds. Facebook encourages companies to get “word-of-mouth promotion for your business” to “millions” by using the feature that makes this happen. Sign the petition today… source.

As you can see the social networks are adding to the problem by exploiting the feeds.

Do you think this is happening by accident, or was it (just maybe) all part of the corporate plan? I’m betting on the latter.

Now aren’t you glad you expressed your undying love for you know who? Remember, everything that you say can and will be used against you. For those more discreet private messages, old school email or the telephone is still your best choice of communication.

Hopefully when everyone realizes what is really going on they will get back to their real blogs and not just move over to the next social network flavour of the month.

Perhaps over time we will see more blurring of the lines as blogs incorporate social networking technologies into their core functionality, so there will be less desire to waste one’s time on someone else’s site. We can only hope.

So let me leave you with this parting thought. Think of the blogosphere as the ultimate social network, and your real blog is your account. Enjoy!

UPDATE: I just read Dave Winer advocating that we need to retain control over our feeds, and Doc Searls says that we should be making our own rules.

I agree with both of them entirely, but I would take that thought even further and say who needs ‘em. Mark my words … social networks are a fad but real blogging is here to stay.

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Written December 2nd, 2007 by | 19 Comments | Filed under: Miscellaneous Blog Tips, Social Media Tips , , ,

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There are 19 Comments so far to “The End of Social Networks”

  1. You nailed it Bloke. In the long run our time is better spent on our blog with our own custom URL rather than a subdomain on another website. Newbies just don’t get it.

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  2. I have some conflicting views. For me social networks are answer to those people who never e-mailed or kept in touch in the longest time.
    And I think they are a great way to keep in touch with friends.

    But if you want to voice your opinions and have the gift of writing or speaking or a means to make vieos, then by all means get your own domain - because not all your friends care about what you have to say !

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  3. Judging from the few comments here it would seem nobody cares about what I have to say :).

    I agree with keeping in touch with friends but beyond that it’s a waste of time. Too many people use it like a blog, and the so-called “groups” can be a quagmire of entrepreneurial types.

    Blogs are perfect for us sociopaths ;-)

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  4. Come one Bloke ! I care about what you have to say !

    Yes you are absolutely right that Social Networks do waste a lot of time !

    I too am against so-called “groups” because most of them are anti-thingy! That just gives “thingy” the attention it’s looking for !

    When you explain the above to the creators of the anti-thingy group, their ubiquitous reply is “Atleast I tried”.

    One can argue that is the same situation in real-world political conflicts that blow out of proportion.

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  5. I’m just surprised there aren’t more comments here. You would think this topic would stir up a lot more interest.

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  6. Could VOIS.com become another Facebook?

    Since the advent of social networking sites in 1997, the phenomenon has taken the world by storm. Once called a passing fad social networking is now a thriving business, in 2006, alone it garnered over $6.5 billion in revenue, while the three biggest players, connected over 280 million subscribers in a way never known before to society. This form of connection has drawn the globe closer together than anyone ever predicted.

    Just a few years ago, MySpace.com, solely dominated the social networking site market with almost 80% of the social networking site market but now websites like Facebook entered the social networking site race becoming the 8th most viewed website in the U.S. according to web measuring traffic site Alexa.com. Facebook.com which originally started at Harvard University , later extended to Boston area schools and beyond has mystified many naysayer’s with its explosive growth over the last three years and an astounding asking price of $10-$15 billion dollars for the company. But who will be next?

    Who will carry the torch into the future?

    With the rapid growth of the likes of MySpace and Facebook the burning question on everyone’s tongue is who is next? As with any burgeoning field many newcomers will and go but only the strong and unique will survive. Already many in the field have stumbled, as indicated by their traffic rankings, including heavily funded Eons.com with its former Monster.com founder at the helm, Hooverspot.com and Boomj.com with its ridiculous Web 3.0 slogan. There are many possibilities but it is a dark horse coming fast into view and taking hold in the social networking site market at the global level that has us interested the website - Vois.com. Less than a year ago, this newest contender directed at 25 to 50 years olds graced the absolute bottom of the list with its website ranked at a dismal 5,000,000. With not so much as a squeak this rising star has come from the depths of anonymity growing an eye-popping 10,000% in less than one year to make itself known worldwide now sporting a recent web traffic ranking in the 5,000 range.

    Understanding the Market

    When people in the United States hear about Facebook and other services such as MySpace the widely held belief is that these websites are globally used and are as synonymous as Google or Yahoo in regards to having a global market presence. This idea is completely misguided. Now it is true that both of these social networking giants are geared to service the western industrialized cultures but when it comes to the markets of the future, the emerging markets, they have virtually no presence. The sites themselves are heavily Anglicized, and Facebook in particular has an extremely complicated web interface that eludes even those familiar with the language, making them virtually inaccessible in other parts of the world even where English is the main language.

    Our interest in Vois is global and geopolitical. Simply, Vois understands this lack of market service and is building its provision model on a global research concept developed by Goldman Sachs a few years ago. The concept is basically predicated on the belief that beginning now using current economic models and continuing those models over the next few decades will lead to a major paradigm shift in the world regarding nations who are current economic leaders like those being the USA and the other members of the G-7 and those who will become dominant in the world economy mainly the BRICs. In the Goldman research report Goldman highlights the fastest growing nations and has dubbed them with the two acronyms BRIC’s and N-11. BRIC standing for ( Brazil, R ussia, India and China) representing the fastest growing economies and N-11 or what are being called the Next-11 representing the next 11 countries to emerge as future important economies such as Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam. This approach has already been implemented with some success with companies like Orkut, who has over 80% of the market share in Brazil and large holdings in India and Eastern Europe . Other providers such as Hi5 have the world as their focus and are making great strides in global market share while Facebook builds itself into a niche provider wholly unready to take on the world.

    A Growing Presence

    As Vois breaks new ground in the world market pursuing previously ignored demographics, they afford themselves the opportunity of tremendous growth unfettered by the giants such as Facebook and MySpace. While cultivating this new user base, Vois will also be able to monopolize on their business revenue strategies, creating an area of commerce that will make their site increasingly attractive to business and users the world over. This concept, dubbed sCommerce, allows the subscriber to promote themselves in both personal and a professional fashion while giving them the option of setting up shop on the site. This approach will allow business owners to target their market in a way never before allowing them to focus on interested groups of individuals while providing follow-up without having to commit to wasteful blanket campaigns that are typically the order of the day. This newfound border will allow Vois to explore new revenue models while provide a tremendous service for both their regular subscribers and business subscribers alike. With all this going on, rapid traffic growth to the site, we pose the question - is Vois the next Facebook, it sure looks like it but only time will tell….

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  7. Hmm, is it my imagination OR is that comment spam? But it’s so informative that I may just leave it. Let me see…

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  8. Hi Bloke!

    Just found your blog from problogger and thanks for the great article! The previous comment about Vois sure sounds like a promo, made me want to look for a “pay here now” option!

    Great site with lots of useful tips and info, thanks!

    Subscribed and will be back!

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  9. Always glad to see a new reader. Welcome to the community Gumbi.

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  10. Your article is pretty much on spot.

    My 0.02$:
    For creative individuals it’s all about venting and ranting until the long tail comes (or if it doesn’t - it doesn’t matter).

    Social networks changing rules along the way to become sort of make-money-fast schemes in their VC/greed-infested worlds are not what will users want. How apparent that is - depends on education of users as well as company PR strategies.

    At the end of the day, every character we write and every click that we click should remain ours. Internet will be come a thoroughly user-friendly place when content ownership and IP issues are resolved in a sustainable (i.e. long-tail) kind of way.

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  11. Bloke, you’re pretty much spot on with your post.

    Blogs are meant to be used until the long-tail comes (if ever). They’re inherently a reputation medium. They require attention and perseverance, something that is in decline since social networks started popping up like mushrooms after rain.

    On the other hand, social networks feed on attention span deficit disorder and superficiality of the Modern Age. Lack of attention to ready TOS and privacy conditions is what makes it possible for Facebook et al to change the rules of the game midway. It’s then when they start their own kind of make-money-fast schemes in order to satisfy their VC or greed. But it’s business, hypocritical as it can be.

    Perhaps bloggers should educate their peers just as geeks did by preaching use of anti-virus and anti-spyware software (so they’re left alone).

    I would like that every character I type and every click I click remains under my control of some sort. Internet will become a thoroughly user-friendly place when we, the users, decide where and to whom do we want our content and metadata to be routed to.

    Thank you for reading this far. ;-)

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  12. Thanks for the thoughtful comments Shonzilla. Whatever tail that we wag, I just hope in the end it’s our blogs that are left standing.

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  13. That I was thinking am I wasting my time in social networking. Thanks for the sharing. But I do believe there are some good ones in the social networks. Honestly, I don’t think social network will end. It will still continue and grow.

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  14. When I wrote the title I had my tongue in my cheek… meaning, I can only hope they will die. ;-)

    You have to read all of my posts to see where I’m going with this. The bottom line is I think people are wasting way too much time on the SNs instead of developing their real blogs.

    Eventually (hopefully), blogging will incorporate more social networking technologies and reduce the desire to use someone else’s site.

    Thanks for sharing champdog and giving me a chance to clarify.



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  15. Although I am 100% with you on your enthusiasm for blogging, I believe social networking on the social networking sites has its uses and I suspect college students won’t blog as much as troll on social network profiles.

    Have written on Blogging vs. social networking.

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  16. Once again I have found a good post of yours

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  17. Thanks for the comments and dropping by Pramit and John.

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  18. I think FaceBook’s widgets are totally out of control. All of those feeds and widgets and useless BS. It drives me a bit mad. I actually far prefer MySpace as it now seems very simple in comparison. Simple can be good.

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  19. Well Social Networks are of great help in many ways. Everything has some pros and cons and thats what you have to deal with it in life.

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